Halflings are a race of short, intelligent, mammalian humanoids dwelling primarily in the Mootland in the Empire and various other scattered regions in the Old World. Halflings are known for their excellent agricultural produce and cooking, but are often discriminated against by the other mortal races, particularly Men, for their short stature and perceived physical weakness. It is a common belief across the Old World that all Halflings are thieves and swindlers. Stirlanders in the southern and central parts of that province are particularly notable for their dislike of Halflings -- as they deeply resent the 1500-year-old decision that stole their best farmland (The Moot) and gave it to the "Shorties," and the belief that all Halflings are thieves is stronger here than almost anywhere else in the Empire. In the town of Wördern, there is a tradition when celebrating a child's birthday, to make a straw-man the size of a Halfling, and stuff it with treats and candies that he "stole" from the children. Then, it is hung from a tree while blindfolded children beat it with sticks until it breaks and "gives back" the candy. Locals deny that drunks have occasionally used a real Halfling for this. Most if not all Halflings speak their own language which is separate from Reikspiel, known as Mootish.
The Halflings are a race as a whole who are roughly half an adult Human's size yet have always seemed to be wherever Men have gone. The Dwarfs record that a tribe of "beardless Manlings we first thought to be children" travelled with the human tribes as they passed through the Worlds Edge Mountains. On the other hand, some Imperial scholars think the Halflings are a race of men experimented on by Verena to find a way to resist Chaos, while a few others argue Ranald created them as a bizarre joke. Regardless of what others say, the Halflings simply say they are as they have always been, and they "like it quite a bit, thank you very much."
Being a rural folk, even in their towns, the Halflings are earthy types who enjoy good food, strong drink, a good smoke, and conversation that would turn a Marienburg marine's ears blue. Expressive to a fault, Halflings think nothing of discussing their aunt’s nightly business with perfect strangers in complete detail. "Just to pass the time, y'know." They love a good chat and strangers are welcomed by farmers along the roads as long as they bring gossip, coin, or lunch. Or preferably all three.
Halflings outside the Moot usually are seen by the small-minded as nothing more than cooks or thieves —or cooks and thieves— though this is rather unfair, because it creates stereotypes out of two Halfling traits. The first is their indisputable ability to make a fine meal out of almost any ingredients. The second is their differing views on property, ownership, and theft.
Most Halflings have grown up in what is effectively a large extended family of siblings, aunts, uncles, “cousins by way of marriage,” and the like. The practice of taking what is needful, be it a pie, a few crowns or even a piece of jewellery, is deeply embedded in the Halfling character. After all, if everyone is family, why should you ask permission? Of course, they’ll let you “borrow” it. These two traits have led to a perception outside the Mootland of Halflings as little more than domestic help you have to keep an eye on.
Many halflings have a deep knowledge of genealogy, able to trace their lineage to the time of Ludwig the Fat. The greatest treasure of the Moot is said to be Haffenlyver, an embossed scroll expounding the family lines of many of the Moot's most notable families. The Haffenlyver is kept by the Elder of the Moot, Hisme Stoutheart.
Outside of the Moot, Halflings may become restaurant owners, tavernkeepers, pipeweed sellers, or street vendors in one of the Empire's major cities. They may become innkeepers or farmers in a human village.[3a] They also have a strange affinity for Ogres, serving as overseers for Ogre work crews or cooks for Ogre mercenary bands.
The Halflings are very practical about their religion; in fact, some observers have commented that they are more superstitious than religious. Their gods, thus, typically have a homely sphere of influence, such as herb lore, cooking, or the hearth and home. Halflings also worship some human deities, in particular Sigmar, Taal, and Rhya.
The Moot has no priests nor temples (except the ones built for them by the Sigmarites), but shrines to the various Halfling deities are common, and village elders are willing to beseech the gods on behalf of their communities, should the necessity arise.
The Halflings worship the gods of the Empire, and Sigmar in particular is venerated as one of their great protectors, though there is no record of Sigmar ever mentioning Halflings, let alone saving them from something. They also have their own gods, but their worship is much more casual than the devotions of humans, Dwarfs, or Elves to their deities. Esmeralda is the goddess of the home and hearth whom Pie Week honours, but there are others, too: Phineas, patron of tobacco with the ever-full pouch; Josias the Farmer, who always knows what the weather will be and can coax life out of the driest dirt; Hyacinth, the goddess of fertility and childbirth; Gaffey, God of Building and Villages; and Quinsberry, God of Ancestry and Tradition. There are others, but they are obscure and little known to outsiders.
Halflings and Magic
In fact Halflings are not naturally magical beings, magic just happens to them. Magic rings "happen" to be found. Magic weapons left lying around? In the middle of a battlefield? These and many other enchanted items will just "happen" to turn up in the Moot one day, and come from all over the world. Even dark, dangerous magic doesn't seem to turn a hair on their feet.
There theoretically is such a thing as a Halfling Wizard, but the time it takes to study is often better spent on more fattening exercises - eating for example. Halflings much prefer to hire "passing" Mercenary Wizards, usually dressed in grey and muttering incomprehensibly about Elves and Goblins...
Halflings are enthusiastic in everything, from stealing to eating to running away. They speak fast, using lots of slang. They frequently slur words together, invent new terms and generally debase the Imperial tongue. Halflings have a habit of obsessively using catchphrases or new words they’ve discovered—at least, until the next one comes along. Halflings use hand gestures much as Elves do, but these are invariably too rude to discuss.
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